February 2021 Wrap-Ups

And now, here’s the second month of 2021. In this short month, things ended up becoming a lot slower so I ended up reading more! Though, I’m sure I could’ve always read more but we’re not getting into that right now!

This month, though, I’ve been struggling with a death anniversary and the lack of courage to continue my manuscript. I’m still working on it though, February was just hard. On the other hand, I read 5 books this month which is good! It’s definitely better than last month’s count, to be sure, and I’m hoping March will be even better since it is a longer one!

★★★★★

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (Hardcover) still holds a special place in my heart. Granted, I think over time I’m feeling like the book is still very white (human?) saviorism and it’s something I notice I’m always warning everyone. “Oh, this book is really good, but it might have stuff that might be white saviorism.” And I wish I didn’t have to it… For people who might say, “Then stop saying that!” but no. A lot of people I recommend this book to are people of color who want to see themselves in the book. And I want to recommend this book over and over because it’s so sweet and the kids are just so wonderful. To certain people, I won’t but others who understand the nuance, I always want to include the warning because it’s something to look out for. The message is good, especially for allies who do work in those positions of impower to consider looking at these situations with a humanistic eye, but it’s becoming harder to recommend it outside a certain group. I truly did enjoy this book but this does put me in a precarious situation when it comes to recommendation and to whom. Regardless, this book is a delight to read and I really can’t wait to re-read it again. I think the one thing that actually gets to me is that while the children are very much the focus, I’m just really glad that there’s no (emotional) torture porn when it comes to this.

★★★★☆

Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira (Paperback, ARC) is a surprise read for me considering I’m not a fan of contemporary and first-person point of view! That’s not a slight in the slightest – I really softened up to this book as I read it. Was it because Carmen was extremely relatable? Oh, possibly, after all, anything about Latine-Hispanic outcasts, I’m eating that up as soon as possible. I actually really liked the romantic interests and I liked that it really could’ve gone either way with either interests. And I’m not mad that it went the direction that it did. Granted, upon reflection, it’s probably super obvious that Carmen was going to end up with Mauro anyway but it was fun with the idea she would’ve gotten with Alex instead. Regardless, it’s a fun story and it really is a feel good story that doesn’t get written enough, especially about girls like Carmen. It would be remiss not to consider the girls who date around (and even if she had done stuff with those guys, who cares) and hear their stories. I’m honestly surprised that I keep thinking about this book and my own relationship with my family (which is nonexistent but that’s neither here or there). While I do wish my own story had a happier ending when it came to my family, I did enjoy more even when it’s a fictional character. I like that you spend a good amount of time with everyone and while some people might find it imbalanced, I thought it was a good amount.

★★★★★

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston (Hardcover) is a delight, I wouldn’t call it a “surprise” delight because I kept hearing over and over how wonderful this book is and it is. Oh, it so very much is! One major problem would’ve been the imbalance between the characters and the world building – butt somehow, some way, this book found that balance. I absolutely adored Amari and continuously rooted for her as she tried to find her brother. She is adorable and there are other wonderful characters who get a fair amount of development with the exception of a few. Since this is a going to be a series, I’m not going to hold that against the book itself since hopefully there will be development for it. There are some threads that could be developed better, particularly when the true villain appeared, but I still think about this book and how good it is. I really cannot wait to delve deeper into this world! And, it’s strange because while this book was released in January of 2021, and yet, this book really read like it’s been out for years – possibly around that other popular book was started. That’s how it felt. Without the mentions of smart phones, you really would believe this book wasn’t taking place in the current time. This is such an enjoyable book and I really need everyone to read this. Especially if you have a hole in your heart thanks to a certain transphobic author really ruining a very popular series after the official dissection of the series and the author herself outing herself as a transphobe.

★★★★☆

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (Volume One) by Ao Jyumonji (Paperback) is an isekai with theoretical video game mechanics. Unlike most isekai stories, there are multiple people being transferred with no memory of who they were and no knowledge of why they’re there other than to survive. There’s death and there are consequences. There’s grit, and there’s bonding time. And there’s one particular character that nearly took me out because of how annoying he is and there’s a character I’d like to understand more on what happened to her which ironically kept me in. The balance in the story isn’t bad until the monogyny crops up and takes up space to show us how poorly this one character (and possibly others) feels about it or to show a bath scene which actually contained an important scene. It’s really annoying because of how often it is in anime (games, books, and so much other media) and me talking about this, at length, emphasizes on how tired I am of it. It’s exhausting and it really made me want to drop the book because it’s clear that the book respects the female characters and puts them on the same level of power and autonomy …until the comments and those bath scenes come up. And I think that’s the frustrating thing about it. It makes me hesitate on wanting to read the next volume despite the high rating. Would it be toned down? Would fans of the series (without spoiling anything) recommend the series to newcomers who are especially tired of the unwarranted misogyny? I’m not asking if it goes away permanently – I realize that’s impossible by nature of humans – I’m asking if that character gets better development and the misogyny lessens.

★★★★☆

Ride Your Wave by Mika Toyoda (Paperback) is a short book but it’s pretty sweet. If you’re looking for something long and deep, you’re not going to find it here. The thing about it is that there’s a lot of stories like this lately. If you’re wanting another romantic-tragic story, this is serviceable but you also have to remember that this is an adaption of the movie, not the other way around. The couple is cute and it’s sad when tragedy strikes. I still haven’t seen the anime movie as of this post, but it’s serviceable. It’s cute. It’s light and fluffy and nothing too deep about it. I did learn a little bit about Japanese firefighters that I probably wouldn’t so it’s a nice treat. It’s cute and I definitely recommend it if you enjoy that sort of thing. If you can find deeper meaning in this light fluffy cake, and you can enjoy this book, then that’s something no one can ever take away from you. I am just one reviewer looking at it through my lenses, after all. “Ride your wave and keep pushing forward” is the ultimate message in this book and it’s certainly a wonderful message to have. I wish that tragedy didn’t happen, though I understand why. As much praise and as much as I always compare this to cake, too much cake isn’t good for you and there’s nothing good about having your loved ones die just so you can learn a lesson. Ultimately, for it’s fluffyness, one would have to be wary about the implications the author didn’t intend to come out – but your brain noticed it. It’s still a good and enjoyable – just be wary.

I think after reading Ride Your Wave made me think about what types of books I’m reading and what content I’m consuming. March looks to be a month of different genres again so we’ll see what the next month brings. Spring is coming which means new beginnings. Out with the old and in with the new as the cycle of life continues and new authors make their debut as others retire and others release more books under their belt. I look forward to the upcoming month and upcoming stories to read and take in.

What have you read this month?

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About Lily

A fujoshi who won't shut up about anime, manga, video games, BJDs, nendoroids, and anime conventions. She apparently can't stop writing either.

Posted on March 5, 2021, in TBRs & Wrap-Ups and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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